Rob Pike Quotes
6 Sourced Quotes
One odd detail that I think was vital to how the group functioned was a result of the first Unix being run on a clunky minicomputer with terminals in the machine room. People working on the system congregated in the room - to use the computer, you pretty much had to be there. (This idea didn't seem odd back then; it was a natural evolution of the old hour-at-a-time way of booking machines like the IBM 7090.) The folks liked working that way, so when the machine was moved to a different room from the terminals, even when it was possible to connect from your private office, there was still a "Unix room" with a bunch of terminals where people would congregate, code, design, and just hang out. (The coffee machine was there too.)
Where will we be ten years from now? CRT's will be a thing of the past, multimedia will no longer be a buzzword, pen-based and voice input will be everywhere, and university students will still be editing with emacs. Pens and touchscreens are too low-bandwidth for real interaction; voice will probably also turn out to be inadequate. (Anyway, who would want to work in an environment surrounded by people talking to their computers?) Mice are sure to be with us a while longer, so we should learn how to use them well.
The major things we saw wrong with Unix when we started talking about what would become Plan 9, back around 1985, all stemmed from the appearance of a network. As a stand-alone system, Unix was pretty good. But when you networked Unix machines together, you got a network of stand-alone systems instead of a seamless, integrated networked system. Instead of one big file system, one user community, one secure setup uniting your network of machines, you had a hodgepodge of workarounds to Unix's fundamental design decision that each machine is self-sufficient.
I started keeping a list of these annoyances but it got too long and depressing so I just learned to live with them again. We really are using a 1970s era operating system well past its sell-by date. We get a lot done, and we have fun, but let's face it, the fundamental design of Unix is older than many of the readers of Slashdot, while lots of different, great ideas about computing and networks have been developed in the last 30 years. Using Unix is the computing equivalent of listening only to music by David Cassidy.